Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Make Much from Little

Feeding 5000
Jesus took five small barley loafs and two little fish. He looked up to heaven. He blessed them. He broke them and gave to His disciples. They fed five thousand people so everyone had enough. They picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. Seems impossible doesn’t it?
The story is found in all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. It’s the only miracle besides Jesus’ resurrection that is recorded in all four accounts. Maybe that gives us a clue as to its importance.
The equation was simple: Jesus’ supernatural power added to a little boy’s lunch equals plenty of food for all. Looking closely at the story I believe we can find four practical steps we can take so Jesus can make little become plenty.
1. Look up to heaven for your help.  When Jesus took the food, the first thing He did was to look up to heaven. When you face a need, don’t look at the problem and don’t look at your meager resources. Lift up your eyes and look to heaven. Here’s great advice from Psalm 121:1-2: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” It may be you feel overwhelmed right now with your marriage problem, your financial problem, your family problem or your physical problem because you are looking in the wrong direction? Like the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim; in the light of His glory and grace.”
2. Thank God for the little that you already have.  The next thing Jesus did was to thank God for the food. It was only a tiny amount, but Jesus blessed it. Too often we spend much of our time asking God for more rather than thanking Him for what we already have.
3. See the value of brokenness.  Brokenness is an important spiritual concept. After Jesus looked to heaven and thanked God for the food, He broke it. It was in this act of breaking the bread that it began to multiply. God truly values broken things. David, a broken man, prayed this prayer in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” In our materialistic culture, a broken object becomes less valuable, but in God’s economy, brokenness only increases the value. The bread had to be broken before it could be multiplied; the alabaster box Mary brought had to be broken before the perfume could be poured out; the clay pots of Gideon and his 300 soldiers had to be broken before the light could spill out; the roof above Jesus had to be broken up before the friends could lower the paralyzed man to Jesus; and the body of Jesus had to be broken before our sins could be forgiven.
4. Serve others before you serve yourself.  Jesus instructed His disciples to serve all the people first. I’m sure every time the disciples returned for more they just knew they would be out by the time they could eat. Here’s an important lesson. If you are most concerned about meeting your own needs first, you will suffer through a pretty miserable existence. Be willing to help other people FIRST and you’ll find your needs and problems don’t seem quite as severe after serving others.
Five Loaves and Two Fishes
God uses
what you have
to fill a need which
you never could have filled.
God uses
where you are
to take you where
you never could have gone.
God uses
what you can do
to accomplish what
you never could have done.
God uses
who you are
to let you become who
you never could have been.
--Philip Clarke Brewer
Have you seen Jesus take your little and do much with it?


  1. I love each of these. I really appreciate your thoughts on seeing the value of brokenness.

    I have a friend that feels broken right now. I sent him your quote:

    "In our materialistic culture, a broken object becomes less valuable, but in God’s economy, brokenness only increases the value."

    Words to live and learn by. Thanks Richard

  2. Thanks Kevin. The story I see in scripture is that God delights in taking that which is small, weak, broken, and ordinary--and using it greatly to His glory. Those who consider themselves to be big, strong, whole and extraordinary simply block God's glory by inserting themselves in the way.



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